University of Delaware receives $3.75 million grant for solar power research

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According to this article on the university website, the University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion will receive $3.75 million in grant money from the Department of Energy under the Solar America Initiative over the next three years. 

Out of nine Universities receiving funding, Delaware is the largest recipient and will be working research projects with Dow Corning and SunPower corp.

“The Solar America Initiative is an exciting program that will enable us to continue our research in established areas, as well as develop expertise in new facets of photovoltaics working with our industry partners,” said Robert Birkmire, professor of materials science and engineering and director of IEC.

With Dow Chemical, the university will be working on flexible solar cells that are made by depositing semi-conductor material onto a flexible film.

The collaboration with SunPower will work towards improving the efficiency of solar cells beyond 26 percent. 

“We’ve developed a great group of people here — an integrated team of scientists and students from different disciplines, which is critical to this research,” Birkmire noted.

Food costs are rising – and soon, so will the price of electricity.

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Recently, many commodity prices have gone through the roof. You don’t have to look any further than the gas station to see the effects of $110 for a barrel of oil. A visit to the grocery store will quickly reveal that prices are also jumping for corn and wheat, as well as chicken, pork, and beef. The high price of transporting food (as well as the secondary effects of corn being diverted for ethanol production) is directly tied to high oil costs, and these rising food costs are creating serious problems for the working poor.

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Even if you’re a model of self reliance and walk everywhere while growing your own food without chemical fertilizer, try this on for size – increased worldwide demand is causing a coal shortage. Since about 50% of the US electric grid relies on coal power plants, this means that rising coal costs are likely to cause rising electric bills (and/or increasing outages). That will affect the cost of green power purchased on the open market too – which makes solar panels look a lot more attractive (more marginal benefit from power savings and higher resale prices on grid tie-ins). Always look on the bright side!

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